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Chapter 836: The Breakthrough is Complete

    Chapter 836: The Breakthrough is Complete

    When Mika made the decision to take over her father's legacy she removed the seal holding her powers back. Her poisonous inheritance filled her blood and caused her Discipline to surge. Through the struggle of controlling her demonic blood she rose to the height of ninth level in only two days.

    Certainly, Satan asking his daughter to succeed him was not a decision made of desperation. The fallen leader of the Dark Citadel had made that decision when his daughter was still young.

    Mika's talents were storied, much greater than her older sister's. She had even more potential than her father did at her age. After the tragedy that befell her family Mika fled, and with Lan Jue's help sealed off the darkness within her. Still her power rose quickly, eventually reaching ninth level sixth rank.

    For her to rise so high without the help of her bloodline spoke to her natural abilities. With willpower this intense, she might have become a Paragon with nothing but her own willpower, completely avoiding the corruption of her inheritance.

    However things did not always go according to plan. Satan was dead, and Mika now had to shoulder the stress and responsibilities he left behind. To perform this job she needed to awaken the demon within her - a demon which granted her great power, but at tremendous cost.

    The corruption of her blood lived in the back of her mind, a poison consciousness that gnawed her will at all hours. She struggled mightily against it, warring for her soul in a way she thought she would never have to suffer again. For now it was under her control, but she feared the next time the demon would rear its head.

    After her breakthrough, Mika scoured Tyrannosaurus for the remaining members of the Dark Citadel. Luckily the core power of her father's legacy remained; the vampire bloodline and werewolf bloodline were intact, as well as their powerful warlocks.

    Naturally these monsters did not easily pledge themselves to Mika's service. Although Mika had risen in prominence, commanding their respect would not be a matter of simply asking. However, she was surprised to discover that the man she thought would be her fiercest opponent - Lucifer - chose to stand by her side. With his help she convinced the others to follow her lead.

    Europa's plight did not just pain the Pontiff. Spirits were crushed and emotions flared through all levels of the Dark Citadel at the destruction of their dark playground. Denizens of the dark underbelly of humanity were known for solving their problems with violence. When Mika came to them, promising an opportunity to exact revenge on the monsters that wronged them, no one resisted.

    Her efforts over the last few days had been a struggle, fighting not only against the remnants of the Dark Citadel but also herself. When she didn't find Lan Jue in the war council meeting, the demon within her had started to stir.

    Lan Qing's words helped her force the beast down, even marking her heart with a Buddha's calm. It helped her contain the monster's rage. She knew that, at least until she broke through to Paragon, she needn't worry about the corruption in her blood taking control.

    "Boss, you better live through this!" Mika muttered to herself.

    ζ

    Lan Jue's condition had improved considerably. Since benefiting from the power of the stars, he and Qianlin's protogenia had stabilized and the two of them were cultivating normally. Thanks in part to Lan Jue's reckless absorption of Qianlin's erratic protogenia, she was also recovering well and found her powers on firmer ground.

    Now her Domain could be released without fear, and its calming properties once more benefited them both.

    Once their condition was no longer critical Lan Jue began to reinject the protogenia he bore for Qianlin back into her Domain. Bit by bit he let her reabsorb what he took in a way that was secure, so that she might complete her breakthrough into Nirvana.

    After experiencing the nourishment provided by the cosmos, Lan Jue's understanding of his own Boundless Starlight Domain had grown more profound. He had learned the premise of relying on the strength of the stars.

    Now he could truly see he was employing the power of his inheritance. Out in space the light of the stars was everywhere, their influence omnipotent. The essence of this power's founder, the Emperor of the North Star, energized the might within him and sped up his cultivation.

    Even just at the cusp of Nirvana, Lan Jue had begun to experience the pressure of universal protogenia. It was a strange, ever-present feeling like he was being constrained. It was almost imperceptible when he didn't use his powers, but when the energies within him stirred so did the ire of the universe.

    It was a profoundly uncomfortable feeling, like his soul was being choked. His heart raced like a normal man in the midst of a heart attack. As Paragon his body fought to keep up to ease the load, but he could feel the increased metabolic processes aging him. It also undermined the stability of his protogenia.

    Only once he'd felt it himself did Lan Jue understand how frightening universal protogenia was. Finally he understood why his father would choose to seclude himself, and be so cautious with his powers.

    If it was so acute for him, after only just entering Nirvana, how terrifying it must be for his father! Jue Di's rapid loss of vital energy could only be the result of universal protogenia.

    And yet it wasn't all bad. The pressure of universal protogenia stimulated his Domain to create a protective screen around him that kept the harshest consequences at bay. It was like being protected by a thousand stars.

    He wasn't the only one stunned by the revelation. Even Jue Di, who conveyed this inheritance unto him, did not know such a thing was possible. Indeed the Emperor of the North Star was worthy of the title Master of Stars! It was the power to create an entirely new universe.

    Lan Jue's comprehension of these mysteries had only scratched the surface, but the benefits were more pronounced day by day. What he knew of his inheritance and the Domain it granted him was advancing by leaps and bounds.

    The power of starlight was his to command, and it was a power pure and malleable. He could mold it into whatever he pleased, whether it was to his benefit or to groom Qianlin's abilities.

    The Queen of Heaven was a strange and wondrous lineage. Protogenia was calmed within its sphere of influence, which served to promote her own cultivation to surprising levels. Of course, where it benefited her it also helped Lan Jue in much the same way.

    Neither of them knew how long they were lost in meditation. They awoke only after their powers had stabilized and they felt replete with the energies they'd consumed.

    Lan Jue's first reaction was to smile as he looked at Qianlin kneeling across from him. She smiled back with the ease of someone who was relieved of a heavy load.

    "I thought I'd only have the opportunity to be your wife in another universe." Qianlin said teasingly.

    Lan Jue chuckled. "To live through tragedy means we haven't yet fulfilled our destiny. No matter what and no matter where, I will always be with you."

    "Yes," she answered. "So long as you're near I don't feel afraid. Even death seems trivial. Now that we've lived through it everything seems clear."

    Lan Jue took her hand and the two of them rose to their feet. He took her into his arms, and felt at peace.

    "Alright, I'm sure there are many people watching." Qianlin said, gently pushing away.

    The two of them turned their eyes toward the nearby bastion. There was no doubt that several cameras had been trained on them this whole time, and now that they were awake news was being spread.

    The thought caused Lan Jue to laugh. "Let them watch. Are you afraid to let them see we love each other? We're man and wife, after all."

    Qianlin pursed her lips. "I don't remember us ever being married. And don't forget, I'm a goddess now. Would you dare take me as your wife?"

    Lan Jue answered without hesitation. "In a heartbeat. You could be queen of all humanity and you would still be my queen. You always have been. Now let's head back."

    Although Lan Jue wanted nothing more than to spend his time with Qianlin, Middle Heaven's presence meant the final offensive was yet to begin. He and Lan Qing had an appointment, and there was critical business still to tend to.

    After a few moments the two of them were back aboard the bastion. As they anticipated, there were people waiting for them.

    "Are you alright?" Lan Qing's voice called to Lan Jue from the communicator on his wrist.

    "I'm fine," he answered. "We've secured our Domains. The breakthrough is complete. You know, finally surpassing you almost killed me! I've waited for this day for a long, long time."

    Lan Qing's answer was indifferent. "Congratulations. But I'm afraid you're likely to face harder challenges soon."

    A chill crossed Lan Jue's heart. He knew what his brother was talking about. "I know. How long has it been since the last battle?"

    "Five days."
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